Petition against council plans to scrap licences takes off

A florist whose High Street stall licence has been scrapped has launched a campaign in an attempt to persuade Tunbridge Wells Borough Council to reverse its decision.

Dawn Smith, who has run her business Mrs Florist outside Java Bean café for three years, will have to stop operating from January when her current lease expires. She has since started a petition, which has been signed by 200 people.

The decision to drop the street licences was made in March but Mrs Smith says she was not made aware it beforehand.

She added: “I got an email from the council saying there was a meeting on March 10 and that they had decided to scrap the scheme.

“There was no information on the agenda to say they were going to make a decision, else I would have gone.

“Their reasoning was low take-up, but why didn’t they promote it more? Instead they decided within five minutes just to scrap it.”

The scheme, which allowed small traders to operate street stalls, was set up in 2013, for five sites in Royal Victoria Place, one on the High Street and an indeterminate number of others on a one-off ‘special occasion’ basis.

The stalls were limited to operating to 104 days of the year.

Mrs Smith, who also operates a flower stall in RVP and trades online, hopes TWBC will take public support into account at a licensing committee meeting on September 8, at which the matter is due to be discussed.

She said: “As a town we should be encouraging enterprise.

“If anything we want to operate there for seven days a week instead of the currently allowed two.

“If they scrap the scheme, we will not be able to operate the stall anywhere else.”

Mrs Smith feared this would force her to make redundancies.

Lloyd Pidduck, who has been working at Mrs Florist for a year, has helped spearhead the petition.
He said: “I went to every shop on the High Street and 99 per cent of the traders were really shocked by the news and asked why it was happening. It was a really fantastic response.

“I think jobs would be under threat at the company because we are a small team and we all work full time.”

A TWBC spokesperson said: “We have received a complaint from Mrs Smith (Mrs Florist) about the first review of the Street Trading Policy introduced in October 2013 and this is being looked into. The review is due to be considered again in September by the Licensing Committee. Mrs Florist applied for and has permission to trade on the site in the High Street throughout 2015.”